SHARK SUMMER

The arrival of a big-budget film crew on Martha’s Vineyard prompts a group of young residents and visitors to make a movie of their own about a gruesome local legend.

A vivid sense of place and nuanced backstories enrich a summertime adventure that begins as a lark but takes on discomfiting twists on the way to a melodramatic climax. Dragged into the project by Elijah, cineaste son of a visiting journalist, 13-year-old Gayle and reclusive, bullied Madison settle on an old tale known as the Atwood Terror, about a wealthy fishing-club owner who supposedly fed victims to sharks for the amusement of his shady associates. To their surprise they discover not only that there might be something to the legend, but that locals seem oddly unwilling to share what they know. Persistence pays off, and Elijah’s fancy camera records clues from old maps and elsewhere that lead at last to startling revelations and narrow squeaks made all the more thrilling for being set amid isolated ruins during a wild storm—although the finished movie turns out to be very different from the one the three thought they were making. Meanwhile, eloquently chronicled in Marcks’ cinematic panels through silent gestures and expressions as much as speech, friendships are formed and repaired, parental relationships articulated, and inner conflicts expressed and resolved. Major characters present White; Elijah and his dad are brown-skinned.

A winning production. (map) (Graphic fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-46138-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish.

THE MECHANICAL MIND OF JOHN COGGIN

The dreary prospect of spending a lifetime making caskets instead of wonderful inventions prompts a young orphan to snatch up his little sister and flee. Where? To the circus, of course.

Fortunately or otherwise, John and 6-year-old Page join up with Boz—sometime human cannonball for the seedy Wandering Wayfarers and a “vertically challenged” trickster with a fantastic gift for sowing chaos. Alas, the budding engineer barely has time to settle in to begin work on an experimental circus wagon powered by chicken poop and dubbed (with questionable forethought) the Autopsy. The hot pursuit of malign and indomitable Great-Aunt Beauregard, the Coggins’ only living relative, forces all three to leave the troupe for further flights and misadventures. Teele spins her adventure around a sturdy protagonist whose love for his little sister is matched only by his fierce desire for something better in life for them both and tucks in an outstanding supporting cast featuring several notably strong-minded, independent women (Page, whose glare “would kill spiders dead,” not least among them). Better yet, in Boz she has created a scene-stealing force of nature, a free spirit who’s never happier than when he’s stirring up mischief. A climactic clutch culminating in a magnificently destructive display of fireworks leaves the Coggin sibs well-positioned for bright futures. (Illustrations not seen.)

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish. (Adventure. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234510-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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Dolphin lovers will appreciate this look at our complicated relationship with these marine mammals.

HOW TO SPEAK DOLPHIN

Is dolphin-assisted therapy so beneficial to patients that it’s worth keeping a wild dolphin captive?

Twelve-year-old Lily has lived with her emotionally distant oncologist stepfather and a succession of nannies since her mother died in a car accident two years ago. Nannies leave because of the difficulty of caring for Adam, Lily’s severely autistic 4-year-old half brother. The newest, Suzanne, seems promising, but Lily is tired of feeling like a planet orbiting the sun Adam. When she meets blind Zoe, who will attend the same private middle school as Lily in the fall, Lily’s happy to have a friend. However, Zoe’s take on the plight of the captive dolphin, Nori, used in Adam’s therapy opens Lily’s eyes. She knows she must use her influence over her stepfather, who is consulting on Nori’s treatment for cancer (caused by an oil spill), to free the animal. Lily’s got several fine lines to walk, as she works to hold onto her new friend, convince her stepfather of the rightness of releasing Nori, and do what’s best for Adam. In her newest exploration of animal-human relationships, Rorby’s lonely, mature heroine faces tough but realistic situations. Siblings of children on the spectrum will identify with Lily. If the tale flirts with sentimentality and some of the characters are strident in their views, the whole never feels maudlin or didactic.

Dolphin lovers will appreciate this look at our complicated relationship with these marine mammals. (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 26, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-67605-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

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